My Last Word on DXpedition Funding… For Now:
by Wayne Mills, N7NG
Following a lively discussion on DXpedition funding at the International DX Conventions in Visalia, California in April, there has been considerable Internet discussion. This continued in Dayton at the DX Forum with a presentation by Don Greenbaum, N1DG. Don is a DXpeditioner, an inductee in the CQ DX Hall of Fame and the Treasurer of the Northern California DX Foundation. Don’s input consisted of a study of 20 DXpeditions that were funded by NCDXF since 1997.
Questionnaires were sent to a number of teams; 20 responded – some notables did not. The 20 DXpeditions accounted for almost two million QSOs at a cost of three million dollars. Don looked at several points: The budgets for these expeditions, the sources of funding and the distribution of QSOs that they logged. Three classes of expeditions were analyzed: 1) the Fly-In, 2) the Semi-Rare and 3) the Southern Ocean expeditions.
There’s a lot of data, but one thing stands out: Clubs and foundations provided 24% of the funds required for the 20 DXpeditions. Moreover, North America provided 80% of the non-operator funding for these expeditions, while accounting for only 36% of the total QSOs logged. You can see additional numbers in Don’s PowerPoint presentation at the NCDXF website: www.ncdxf.org
Don adds that DXpeditions should make an effort to increase the transparency of their expenses and sources of funding. It would not be appropriate or even necessary to provide the DXing public with a detailed accounting, but a reasonable representation of the expenses involved would help DXers understand the nature of the expenses they face by many DXpeditions.
As I have mentioned previously, we live in a changing world in which remote outposts such as Heard Island, Bouvet, Amsterdam Is. etc. are no longer manned by ham-technicians. Add to this the fact that many more locations require extensive approval procedures, which in turn requires larger efforts that will compensate for long periods between operations. All of this leads to greater and greater expenses.
There are several alternatives. Ideally, teams could raise the funds – up front – that are necessary to do the planned expedition. Another alternative is to downsize an expedition to fit the available funding. A third is to rely on post-expedition funding – the so-called “QSL income.”
Of course, the usual outcome is a combination of the above. A final alternative is to cancel the expedition altogether. It goes without saying that some of these alternatives are more desirable than others. Up-front funding is far more desirable than the “charging for QSLs” that many find so objectionable.
At the DX Forum in Visalia I said “As long as the funds for these extremely expensive trips are actually raised – one way or the other – they will continue to take place. Therein lies a lesson. Only when the funds actually dry up will changes be contemplated.” In terms of causing change, the most direct scenario might be that planned expeditions are cancelled because of insufficient funding. This would be a marketsolution, but markets can be messy. Does this all sound familiar? Is there really a “free lunch”?
If we wish to continue enjoying the fun of the chase without the likely “downturn,” and if we wish to avoid the negatives of post-expedition fund raising, we must move toward the up-front solution. To do this, we will need to alter our patterns of contributing.
This week’s hint, then, is to contact your favorite DX Foundation – soon – and tell them you wish to contribute. If you have concerns let them know. Only in this way can we avoid the inevitable. DXing is a world-wide activity, and a world-wide solution is necessary.
(c) 2012, Wayne Mills, N7NG